The Founder and Managing Director of Links Associates, Corina Vintan is one of the Romanian pioneers in the field of Strategic Communications, specializes in Public Affairs consultancy, Media relations, Branding and Corporate communications, Political communication. Over the years, Corina advised many companies and clients with projects of national interest in many sectors of the Romanian economy which range from mining, oil and gas, tobacco, real estate, pharmaceutical industry, mass media as well as public diplomacy and charitable organizations.
Corina is one of the founding members of the Romanian Lobby Registry and holds the position of general secretary. She is also one of the founding members of the Romanian Association of Public Relations Professionals (ARRP). BR spoke with Vintan about the agency’s 2019 and what she foresees for 2020, the industry’s trends and changes, strategy and creativity.
By Romanita Oprea
How was 2019 for the agency in terms of turnover /revenues?
It was a good year with great professional and financial results that confirmed our decision to maintain our positioning, as well as the agency’s dimension and direction. We maintain the niche of special strategic communications, with high stakes for the country.
What about the pitches entered?
We continued to select our battles and although we think the pitches are a good opportunity to train the creative muscle of the agency, when we have all the elements to believe that we have been invited for the wrong reasons, we refuse to participate. We believe in transparency and we developed in the last years a list of criteria that helps us apply the correct filter in relation with prospect clients. Generally, clients know why they choose us. It is a guaranteed result of professionalism, ethic and heroism.
How would you characterize the local PR industry in 2019 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity etc?
Despite the fact that the allocated budgets have increased altogether with the need for more complex and solid communications strategies, the clients require more efficiency and creativity in the campaign implementation. The measurement in terms of visibility, awareness and business results has to justify the investment. However, only a few agencies prove to have a profitable business model.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2019?
We continued the diversification of the portfolio, we added 3 clients in defense, we added more skills to our team already experienced in 15 industries, we also expended networks that aid the results of clients. Our campaigns look completely different now compared to 11 years ago. I might add that despite changes we are proud to have a constant: the same people and clients in the last 7 years. Except for one client that pitched last year the account after 8 years of working together, which is only normal.
What trends did you notice on the local market last year and how do you intend to follow them /represent them at your agency? What do you foresee for 2020 from this point of view?
In 2019 we had one more time the confirmation that the communication is on a path of change without any possibility to return. We have clients whom we call of Public Affairs but whose objectives cannot be reached without other tools, such as digital communication, experiential communication or influencer communication. Everything is intertwined and communication has become more strategic than ever.
What do you hope for 2020 for the PR Romanian industry? What about for the agency?
I hope to see more effective campaigns that truly help the clients on a medium and long term. We have a lot of campaigns that are using the proper tools but they are failing to tailor an identity for the clients that is aligned with their values and the values the public finds relevant in the current society.
For Links, I hope that in 2020 we will have the chance to tell powerful stories to help our clients earn, strengthen and protect their relationship with consumers and target audiences.
What are the changes you intend to bring in the agency in 2020 and why?
In 2020 we will focus on diversification, both in terms of the industries we work for, and in terms of services. In the same time, we want to equip our team with the necessary knowledge and skills for the upcoming changes that will reshape the entire communication field.
Where do you see the Romanian PR industry compared to the European PR industry?
Links Associates is part of the Edelman network, the largest independent communication network globally with more than 60 offices worldwide. We are thus connected to their know-how and practice and we can say that the only particularity of the Romanian market compared with more mature markets is the much lower fees. Otherwise, it’s nothing that we have not implemented yet.
Is the migration of seniors influencing the local industry?
We are an agency that hires only seniors. We haven’t lost anybody in the last 8 years. We are also looking for more seniors that add value in industries that we will approach.
The industry is very competitive and the struggle for talents is high, but the emerging generation of young communicators is very creative and promising. We help grow them and hope they will like in the future to be our colleagues. Our role is to invest in them and fuel them with trust.
Where do you believe to be our industry’s main problems and how can they be changed?
It is the same old problem: the allocation of budgets by the clients and the tendency of the agencies to do whatever it takes to preserve the clients including a very poorly rewarded work. On the other hand, I think we still have a lot of clients that continue to see communications as a nice to have thing and not one must have thing. It is our role as communicators to get this thing right and to show them how we create value for them. I believe that a major threat for many agencies is the repetition of what they know, I mean many agencies do exactly the same things, multiplying themselves continuously, but not bringing innovation.
How do you see the lines blending between PR, social media and advertising today?
Everything is blended in a spectacular symbiosis and the future is integration with a command center that is changing according to the objectives. Each of the communications streams has its own way to get to the public needs but none has the absolute power, so they are all compelled to work together and build attractive common “highways” towards the consumers and other targeted audiences.
How of an important role are still having the consultancy and the strategy?
They are the key of a valuable communication. The strategy is the difference between hazard and an informed and knowledge-based approach. Strategy and consultancy make us communication professionals and not simple communication suppliers.